The loss of the Central Otago Racing Club meeting in late February is a loss not only for the club, but for the local farming community.
That is the view of club president Mike White as the club faces just one date next season rather than two, based on the New Zealand board’s final calendar for next year.
White said that the late February date, dubbed “cockies and contractors” day, had been growing in popularity.
“It had been getting bigger and bigger. We sold 35 marquees last year,” he said.
“We turned over $44,000 in the last couple of years and that would be as big as any weekday meeting in New Zealand, apart from the likes of your Melbourne Cup days.”
The club had made submissions to retain the date but, despite falling on some sympathetic ears at some levels of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, the club’s efforts were unsuccessful and White does not expect to see it reappear in the future, especially with the loss of the meeting at Cromwell two days later.
“I’d say it’s gone forever. We would never get it back, I wouldn’t think. Because we’re out of the way a little bit, [the trainers] would come for two days but not for one day.”
The club would work on getting the regular attendees from the February meeting to attend the club’s early January date, but White said the meetings tended to cater for different crowds.
Holidaymakers make up the majority of the crowd at the Omakau meetings in both codes in January.
“We will try to get some of those people who come to cockies day into the Christmas meeting but it’s a different crowd.
“All the people that come to the cockies day never go racing other than that day, so all the marquee holders are pretty gutted about that.”